(Last Updated on : 05/06/2012)
was the last Jain Tirthankara and was known as Vardhamana. He has established the tenets of Jainism
. He belonged to the Jnatrikas, a Kshatriya
clan of Kundapura near Vaishali
, north of Patna
. He realized the transitory nature of the world after undergoing all the education and training for princes of the time and became an ascetic at the age of thirty.
Early Life of Mahavira
Lord Mahavira was born in Kundagrama, i.e. Basukund of today in 599 B.C. He is regarded as a great Brahman and a great preacher. Life of Mahavira was very spiritual from the beginning. He had a reflective mind from his early childhood. He realized the transitory nature of the world after undergoing all the education and training for princes of the time and became an ascetic at the age of thirty. As King Siddhartha's son, he led the life of a prince. At a tender age he exhibited an honest nature. He was engaged in meditation and immersed himself in self-contemplation.
Ascetic Life of Lord Mahavira
At the age of thirty Mahavira gave up his worldly life and all worldly activities. He left his home for a lonely forest, called Gnatnshanda or Jnatrkhandavana, which was located near his home town. Mahavira had first joined the order of Parshvanatha
. According to the Digambaras
Mahavira had abandoned his clothes at the time of his initiation. Mahavira attained supreme enlightenment at the age of forty-two, in the thirteenth year of his renunciation. He had to suffer much from crawling insets, from bad people, from the attacks of the village-guards, from domestic temptations and from other wanderers.
During these years he spent most of his time meditating. He gave utmost respect to other living beings, including humans, animals and plants, and never harmed them. He lived an extremely austere life. He had exemplary control over his senses while continuing the penance during these years. The name Mahavira was given owing to the courage and bravery displayed by him. Mahavira attained supreme enlightenment at the age of forty-two, in the thirteenth year of his renunciation.
Mahavira wandered to different places preaching people about the eternal truth and about his religious system. He organised order of ascetics, preached his doctrines and made converts. He formed the four orders of Jainism
. The Kalpasutra
gives the names of the places where Mahavira stayed during the rainy seasons after he renounced the world.
Mahavira had got powerful royal patronage which helped him the spread of his doctrines. Kings and princes like Bimbisara
and Lichchavi king Cheataka supported his teachings. His influence penetrated into distant kingdoms. He also got support from contemporary republican governments..
Nirvana of Lord Mahavira
Lord Mahavira attained nirvana at the age of seventy one years and six and a half months. There have been wide spread controversies regarding the exact location of the place where Mahavira attained his nirvana. It is believed that Mahavira breathed his last in Pawapuri
According to the Kalpasutra
, the eighteen confederate kings of Kashi
and eighteen kings belonging to the Malla
and Lichchavi clan gathered on the of Mahavira's death. Vardhaman's birthday is celebrated as Mahavir Jayanti
, the most important religious holiday of Jains around the world.